So for you folks who do not know about Elf On The Shelf, well bless your heart! Look it up…try Google (amazing little thing Google is, huh?!) Anywho, for those who are very familiar with the little red elf, whether it be that he resides at your home each year or you’re enduring all your friends post photo after photo on Facebook (yes I’m one of those folks!), I’m going to share our adventures this year.
This is our second year of the little red guy visiting us each night and I have to admit, the creative juices are starting to run out. I made myself a promise to not cheat and look online for ideas this year. I’m not saying it’s wrong to search Pinterest for hours or copy off other people’s Facebook pics so that’s why I’m sharing with everyone this post. Maybe you’ll find some fresh ideas to get you through the next few days until it’s time for your little elf to head back home. I’m sure some of our elf’s little antics have been done before (maybe they discuss strategy when they head back to the North Pole every night to check in with ole Saint Nick) but I can honestly say, I’ve done my best to be “original”.
Let me start by saying, I usually have NO CLUE what our elf might come up with until long after my 4 year old has gone to bed. Oh! Let me throw in this disclaimer before I go any further: If you’re one of those who has an elf that just sits there and maybe every other day or so moves from one end table to the next…I ain’t hatin’ ya…your kid might, but who am I to judge! Back to my point of gathering ideas, the elf genius comes from standing in my kid’s playroom thinking “What in the H_ _ _ am I going to come up with next?!”
It’s really been a challenge this year because we’ve spent part of our time in our RV…Holy Limited Space And Props Batman! I hope you enjoy our elf, his name is Jingles by the way…left that out earlier. Here’s to another year of crazy elf-ness!
And to add a little extra to this post, here’s a trip down memory lane at the fun we had our first year with the little red guy!
I hope everyone that has an Elf On The Shelf enjoys it as much as we do. This is the best time of the year for us and we have so much fun with it! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
I wish I could take credit for inventing this recipe but I can’t. I can definitely take credit for it being on my menu list on an almost weekly basis though. My dear friend from high school contributed this recipe to my daughter’s cheerleading team’s cookbook (which has turned into my recipe Bible at this point). I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do. Seriously! It’s awesome!
Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 boneless pork shoulder roast
3 bay leaves
1 can beef broth
Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of crock pot and place pork on top. Pour broth around sides of pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Cover and cook on low until pork shreds easily with fork, approximately 6 hours. Turn meat over after 4 hours. When pork is tender, remove from crock pot and shred with two forks. Disgard bay leaves. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat. Can be served in tortillas with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce. A side of black beans and/or rice can complete your meal.
When I started this blog I knew that I would be embracing my Southern roots but boy oh boy I had no idea how much I would be reflecting on them until now. Let me start by saying this is not a “Let’s bash the North” post but rather a comparison of the things I’ve encountered since we left on our journey last Saturday.
Just a little background as to the reason why I would even CONSIDER an extended stay in the north, let alone one during the winter. My husband’s job ended in Texas and his most solid job offer was in North Dakota. So after much discussion, prayer, and consultations from Nate’s dad, we decided to purchase an RV and head north. The RV was a must have for many reasons, mainly from a financial stand point and because of our dog. Hotels for some reason welcome little annoying yappy dogs all day long but intimidated by a large dog…whatever!
Back to our journey…we left Texas last Saturday after a very long day of prep. Nothing like taking your car for a front end alignment and finding out yet another tire is bad (Goodyear is the worst tire made in my opinion). After a lot of hustle we got that fixed. Then it was on to getting the brake system on our truck fixed before we started towing the RV. 6:00 pm rolled around and were finally on our way. We only made it 150 miles before exhaustion kicked in and we stopped for the night. Bright and early the next morning we left out of Brady, TX and continue on. Lordy Texas is a BIG state! We made a stop in some little town in Texas for lunch and to celebrate our little man’s 4th birthday. In the midst of all the chaos surrounding this huge decision we still made time for the important things in life. So on through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and South Dakota we go. We stopped for the evening in Rapid City, SD. The next morning we made a stop by Sturgis and visited the Full Throttle Saloon…LOVE IT! We continued our journey to Watford City, ND and could not find a decent RV park anywhere. Tired, exhausted, and stressed beyond belief we decide to head for the closest “big” town, Williston, ND. This is where things went south (no pun intended) and my opinions of the north begin.
Besides the obvious Southern draw, the overly used expression “bless your heart”, and the embedded manners of using the term ma’am and sir when addressing folks (yes, we call them folks, not people) the South is just nice. We’re nice to folks whether they’re our neighbor or enemy, we’re nice to our family, we’re nice to our pets…we’re just nice. The folks in the north seem to have missed that memo. When we hit about the Kansas state line it was like a switch was flipped. You can walk into a gas station and say hello and the cashier looks at you like you’re speaking a foreign language. Even my just turned 4 year old said “Thank you sir” to a guy that held the door open for him and the guy looked at him like he had just said a cuss word. Since we’ve been in North Dakota we’ve dealt with nothing but rudeness. No sense of customer service, no sense of compassion…nothing but attitudes as cold as the weather. Now I’m not saying that every single person who lives “up north” is rude or lacks compassion…this is just what I’ve experienced in 4 states in the last week. These people need to loosen up…smile every once in awhile…develop a sense of humor. It’s really kinda bumming me out.
Who knows how long we’ll be here but one thing’s for sure…I’m not going to let the Grumpy McGrumpy’s change my Southern way of life but rather give me greater sense of pride of how I was raised. I will continue to use my Southern twang when saying my ma’am’s and sir’s and not deter my son from being polite even in the face of someone who hasn’t ever been introduced to the wrong end of a plum switch. At the end of the day all I can do is walk out with my chin up and just shake my head and say “bless their hearts”.
Another food I’ve acquired the taste of since living in Texas is guacamole. I simply was NOT a fan of it in Florida. I don’t know if it was the way it was made, my mentality that it looked gross or what but either way, I didn’t like it. I’ve tried several different versions and here’s my take on it and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!! Some might find it too complicated and just go back to the tried and true avocado mushed up way but others might say they’ve finally found a guacamole recipe they can love as much as I do. This recipe is chunkier with veggies and adds a little more excitement to the basic recipes.
Here ya go!
1/3 c tomato, chopped
1/3 c onion, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1/4 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 tsp salt/pepper mix
Half , pit, and scoop avocados then chop and add to mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Mixing all ingredients continuously for 3-5 minutes will break down the avocados to the consistency most are accustomed to when eating guacamole. Use potato masher if needed to get a creamier result.
Holy cow! I knew I hadn’t blogged in awhile but gosh, I’ve been a complete slacker! I’ve had such a busy summer and I hope I can recap everything into one post.
Let’s see, June brought Father’s Day and my birthday. I made a super cute craft for Nate for Father’s Day that incorporated his hand with both Tristan and Ethan’s hands and he absolutely LOVED it! I received the Cricut Expression 2 as my Mother’s Day/Anniversary gift so I was thankful to have that to do the lettering for the frame.
My birthday was filled with all kinds of fun that involved Magic Mike, beer, and Boba Fett! We saw the movie at an awesome theater that serves food and drinks during the movie! We honestly didn’t care if the movie was good or not…we had beer and Channing Tatum.
OH! Did I mention my friends “gifted” me with a life size cut out of Boba Fett?! He was standing at my front door on my birthday and luckily my husband didn’t shoot him when he left for work that morning.
July brought more birthdays, 4th of July (of course), my first attempt at a beer pong tournament, my daughter came to Texas for a short visit, and trip to Florida to visit our family and attend my (gulp) 20 year reunion!!!
If you even know me a little bit I can be a bit of a prankster…so with my friends thinking they had the upper hand on me with the whole surprise Boba Fett thing at my door I felt paybacks were in order. For Mandy’s birthday our whole group of friends decided to show up unannounced at her house and basically have a pretend BBQ complete with BBQ pit, empty beer keg, radio, cooler of beer…you name it we had it! It was pretty awesome although Mandy’s husband (who was recovering from the previous night’s beer pong tournament) didn’t find it very amusing.
My friend Kat’s birthday was also during July and she let it slip out that she HATES pigs! Well, of course I made a mental note and left these cute little fellas all in her yard along with a good old fashioned forking! I had a great time drawing up these pigs!
My youngest daughter made her way to Texas in mid July. Our time together is so precious to me and I just soaked up every minute I could. (another reason why I haven’t blogged in forever) We spent our time checking out a few of the tourist hot spots that we hadn’t gone to the last time she was here. She’s absolutely IN LOVE with the city and is already making plans to move here for college so I’m super excited about that possibility. We also visited the Japanese Tea Gardens http://www.saparksfoundation.org/japaneseteagarden.html
and took some photos that will be used as her “official” Sweet 16 pictures. We visited the Riverwalk a couple of times and her favorite part was seeing how beautiful it is at night.
After a week in Texas we began our 14 hour drive to Florida. Nate had been there for a few days and was soaking up that wonderful Florida sun and Tristan was chomping at the bits to see his Daddy, see his Papa, and of course play on the beach. No road trip is complete without a stop at The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, MS. By far THE BEST BBQ ever!!!
We had a great time just enjoying time with all the kids and I finally got to spend some time with my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. My 20 year reunion was a 2 night event and it was great to see old friends and take a walk down memory lane.
So far August has brought our little family trying to get back into routine again. Tristan is back at t-ball practice, Nate is back at work, the dog is happy to be at home, and I’m still cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and trying to stay cool. We did have another Mom’s Night Out event that was a wigging out theme. We all wore wigs and went out to a couple of restaurants for food and drinks. We had a BLAST! I did learn that if/when I wear my wig again I have got to come up with a better game plan for putting all this hair up.
As far as all my plants that I was sooo proud of…this Texas heat has been tough on them and I’m still trying to revive them since my trip to Florida. 100+ degree heat plus no watering for a few days did a number on them all. I was able to get a good batch of basil picked before I left and we made some really good basil pesto using a recipe from my friend Tara’s blog at www.dellaroseliving.com.
Find the recipe here: http://www.dellaroseliving.com/basil-pesto-recipe/.
I hope to be back very soon with some new recipes and to share some more fun stories!
Anyone who has family member with food allergies knows what a challenge it can be to reinvent new recipes. We have a chicken allergy in our home so I’m always looking for a new twist in all the traditional recipes that have chicken as the main component. With a ton of pork left from my crock pot carnitas I certainly didn’t want to waste it so I went on the hunt to “recycle” it into another recipe. I also didn’t want to go out for ingredients and so began my quest to make a pot pie completely from scratch! It turned out amazing and I’m happy to share this recipe with you.
2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c + 2 T milk
2 tsp rosemary
In medium bowl mix flour, salt, and rosemary. In separate bowl mix oil and milk. Slowly pour milk/oil mixture into flour mixture and stir. Most people will use their blender with the pastry attachment but I don’t have one so I just mixed with spoon and then finally with hands, kneading the dough until ball is formed. Place in ziploc bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When ready to bake pot pie, remove dough from refrigerator, cut in half and roll 1/2 half flat until it lays flat in pie dish. Roll out second have to place on top of pot pie filling.
**Note-I did have to work the dough out a little by hand before rolling with rolling pin.
Pot Pie Filling
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c flour
14 oz beef broth
3/4 c milk
2 c pork
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 c mixed veggies (fresh frozen bags works great)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400°. Melt butter in large cooking pot then slowly add flour and stir. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly to remove lumps from flour. Once all broth has been added, stir in milk and simmer until thick. Add pork, veggies, cheese, salt, and pepper and cook until heated throughly and veggies are done. Pour into prepared pie crust and top with top crust. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Let the pie “rest” for approximately 10 minutes before cutting.
Ah yes, the words every cook loves to hear….I need this recipe! I hosted a Mom’s Night In event last night at my home and true to all things Southern and hospitable I had tons of food and drinks. Every item on the table got rave reviews by the wonderful ladies that attended so I thought it would be easier to just put all the recipes into one blog post for them and for everyone else that would like to try them. I do have to be completely honest, not a one of these recipes are my own. I found a couple on Pinterest and a couple belong to my friends.
From left to right, front to back here’s the list!
BLT bites courtesy of Pinterest. Here’s the link! Also, a little hint…I don’t know about you but as much as I LOVE bacon, I hate that my house smells of bacon for days. I cooked up my bacon the day before the party and stored in the fridge until I was ready to construct my little sandwiches.
Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip is on the front right corner. This is one of my oldest, dearest friend’s recipe that I have YET to master! Maybe I just like hers better because she’s usually making it for me! Here’s the recipe.
2 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c mayo
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
14 oz can artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together softened cream cheese and mayo until well blended. Add garlic, spinach, artichokes, and cheese and mix well. Pour into pie plate and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Serve with favorite crackers.
Right smack in the middle of the table is the most delicious dip I’ve ever tried/made! I found that recipe on Pinterest as well and it’s called Mississippi Sin. Here’s the link for that little slice of heaven!
In the bowl you’ll see some sausage balls. These things got two thumbs up and a trip or two back in the house for more “taste testing” by my husband. Another super easy recipe courtesy of Pinterest.
The fruit cake was brought by a friend and I do not have any information on that. Don’t think I’m just skipping over it. 🙂
In the far back left corner is strawberry cheesecakes. How simple is this?! All you need is the Jello no bake cheesecake mix and strawberries! Mix up the cheesecake mix per package instructions, slice the strawberries in half and scoop out the middles, then pipe in the cheesecake mix. Garnish with the graham cracker crumbs that came in the cheesecake box. One of my friends took this to a Kentucky Derby party and I loved the idea and the simplicity of it.
The infamous margarita cupcakes are in the middle backside of the table. I used two different resources for this treat. I didn’t care for the icing listed in the first link so I found another site for icing that is delish!
For the cupcakes this recipe is the BEST! http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/05/01/margarita-cupcakes/
For the icing I really liked this one. http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/05/05/margarita-cupcakes-with-tequila-lime-buttercream-frosting/
In the far back right is my final Pinterest inspired recipe, Stuffed Baguettes. This one, although yummy, was time consuming.
For our drinks I made Pink Punk Cosmos…which I was introduced to at TGIFridays.
As for the non-alcoholic drinks, I made a refreshing peach basil iced tea. Another friend had submitted this recipe for our cookbook fundraiser and thought that I would try it out finally!
Peach Basil Iced Tea
3 Orange pekoe tea bags
1 c loosely packed fresh basil leaves
4 c water
5 cans peach nectar, 5.5 oz size, chilled
1 1/3 c sugar
1 1/4 c water
Peach slices and basil sprigs for garnish
Boil tea bags and basil in 4 cups of water. Let steep 5 minutes and strain through a sieve into pitcher. Cool tea and chill for approximately 1 hour. Stir in nectar and sugar and additional water. Serve over ice and garnish with peach slices and basil sprigs.
Serve all this stuff at your next party and you and I can share the title of “The Hostess With The Mostest”! Enjoy!